It's been said that if you want something done right, you should do it yourself. But does the same go for SEO? The truth is, you CAN do SEO yourself, but not until you read this.
Today, we're going to do a deep dive into the world of SEO marketing. From search engine optimization basics, how to hire an SEO expert, how SEO helps in business, and everything in between, by the end of this article, you'll have all your bases covered.
Let's dig in!
What does SEO involve?
SEO isn't a quick fix. It takes a lot of strategizing, planning, and yes – time – to do it right.
If you're going to do SEO yourself, you need to start with the fundamentals, including exactly what SEO involves.
Here are six fundamental factors taken into account for any successful SEO strategy:
- SEO research
- Keyword research
- On-site optimization
- Produce and optimize site content
- Off-site optimization
- Ongoing analytics
Let's explore each of these factors a bit further to give you a better idea of what they mean and why they matter.
Any great strategy begins with research, and the same goes for SEO. Before you attempt to do SEO yourself, you need to do research. SEO research includes not only keyword research, but also researching your competitors and industry trends.
When it comes to SEO, the most important research you'll do is what's known as keyword research.
This is when you'll research, analyze, and record the search terms people use when they're looking for something specific online. Ultimately, these terms help you decide what to include in your own content.
There are a number of free keyword research tools online. But keep in mind, they have their limits. They won't get you the same results as premium versions (like Moz or SEMRush) or the results you would get if you hire an SEO expert to do your research.
Also known as on-page SEO, this step refers to all of the elements you need to optimize for SEO on your actual website as opposed to external factors which we'll cover in a minute.
On-site optimization itself comes with a number of steps to cover, including (to name a few) headings, title tags, meta descriptions, page loading time, and site content.
Produce & optimize site content
Your website content isn't just the copy on each page of your site. It also refers to optimizing your blog content and adding to it regularly. (For many website owners, this is one of the hardest steps to keep up with on their own!)
Off-site SEO is anything that happens OFF or away from your website that brings users to it and signifies its relevance to search engines.
Think of the last time you were on a website and clicked a link on that site that took you to an entirely different site. That outgoing link is what's known as a "backlink" for the new site you're directed to. And you can't have off-site optimization without backlinks!
We hate to break it to you, but SEO isn't a "set it and forget it" situation.
Once you've implemented your basic SEO practices, it takes ongoing analytics to monitor the success of your efforts and adjust them accordingly.
Can you do SEO Yourself?
Now, back to those big questions: Can I do SEO myself? Can I learn SEO on my own?
If you have a strong handle of the six fundamental factors we just listed and you're up for performing regular updates to your content and your SEO strategy, then yes! You certainly can do SEO yourself.
But for many people, the time it takes for successful SEO simply isn't realistic for them.
They're busy running their business, managing their employees, and taking care of other important tasks. At the end of the day, the last thing they want to do is spend time on SEO.
But the time-saving opportunities from outsourcing your SEO to the pros aren't the only benefit to doing so.
When you entrust these services to experienced professionals, you'll find you get far better results (often in less time) than you do performing SEO on your own.
Determined to do SEO yourself? Start here
If you decide to do SEO yourself, start by working your way through the six fundamentals we just listed.
First, you'll need to perform extensive research. You'll create keyword lists based off of your research and also perform other SEO research into your competitors.
When it's time to start putting your research to work for you, you will need to update your site with SEO optimized copy and content. This includes changing (or adding) title tags, meta descriptions, inserting keywords, adding headings, and much more.
It also means it's time to start creating regular content to add to your website. Whether it's weekly blogs or other fresh content, these all provide you with a great opportunity to rank for applicable keywords and get more traffic.
Of course, you'll also need to spend time on social media and other platforms to build backlinks. You need to build up authority for your website by getting more backlinks to your site.
This can be one of the most frustrating and challenging parts of doing SEO yourself. Unfortunately, it often ends up being ignored altogether simply because it's too frustrating!
Finally, you'll also need to set aside time for regular maintenance, measuring results, and studying your analytics. It also means getting set up on Google Analytics if you haven't done so yet.
If you're new to SEO, we recommend taking a course or performing your own research to learn about the SEO metrics you'll need to understand. This includes things like your bounce rate, time on page, CTR, average position, hits, impressions, and more.
Why You Shouldn't Rely on SEO Alone
As powerful as SEO can be (especially when it's done right), it doesn't mean you don't need to focus on other ways of getting website traffic.
By no means is SEO dead – it's incredibly important and it's expected to continue to be. But it's also changing on an almost daily basis.
SEO isn't dead. But it is changing.
And that's exactly why you need the help of an SEO company to keep up with these changes.
The Top Reason You Need an SEO Company by Your Side
What worked for the past year might suddenly change. You're no longer getting the traffic and results you once did. But you're not sure why.
And unless you regularly peruse SEO blogs and keep up with Google's own updates, you might never know why it happened.
Search engines regularly roll out massive updates to their algorithms that can affect the success of your strategy. They can also mean an entire pivot is necessary.
Consider this: In 2017, SEOs were told to focus on mobile first indexing, video, natural language, and local search.
Fast forward a few years, and Google has rolled out an algorithm update that made some big changes.
The update, often known as the "medic update", repeatedly refers to E-A-T. What do each of these letters stand for?
In the same update to their Search Quality Guidelines, Google discussed YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) pages. It meant they would hold certain web pages to a higher standard if incorrect or irrelevant information could negatively impact visitors' happiness, health, or wealth.
Types of YMYL pages include those that offer major life advice, pages with medical or health information, sites that solicit personal information, and pages used for financial services, including banking. According to Google, they would now take each of these factors into greater consideration when they are indexing content. (But not JUST these factors. According to Google, they actually look at about 200 different factors when indexing sites.)
So, where does that leave people who spent all their time in 2017 focusing on mobile first indexing, video, natural language, and local search?
It means they're left picking up the pieces of an SEO strategy that no longer gets them the results they need!
But the ever-changing nature of search engine optimization is just one reason you need an SEO company on your team.
Added benefits of working with an SEO company
The truth is, there are all kinds of benefits to working with an SEO agency:
- Saves you valuable time every day on SEO
- Gets better results
- Faster results than if you do SEO yourself (but remember: SEO success doesn't happen overnight!)
- Can spot hidden errors or opportunities for improvement on your existing site
- Comprehensive understanding of how to improve SEO both on-page and off
- Help outrank your competitors
- Access their diverse industry experience
- Better ROI and long-term results
How to Find a Reputable SEO Agency
Now you might be convinced hiring a local SEO expert is your best bet instead of learning how to do SEO yourself.
But your next question is: How can I find a reputable SEO agency?
For such an important decision, you need to do your research ahead of time. Of course, you'll want to talk about things like budget, their expertise, what kind of results to expect, and other fundamentals.
But there's a lot more to making sure you hire the right company for your needs.
To save you some of that time and effort, check out these questions you should ask a company before outsourcing your SEO services to them.
Ask about their experience
First, you'll want to know about their previous experience and success in SEO website optimization for their clients.
You don't just want to HEAR these results from them, either. Make sure to ask for specific metrics and analytics that give you the real story. (We know it might be tricky to decipher what the analytics mean, so never be shy to ask for clarification!)
Understand their approach
Next, you'll want to ask about their approach to SEO and the process they use. Understandably, this process isn't always quick to explain or cover.
(At Seologist, for example, we use a five-step process (audit, content, strategy, optimization, and refinement). To learn more about the details and work that goes into each step, click here.)
Another topic that can't be missed is all about their ethical practices.
Unfortunately, plenty of SEO companies get results with less-than-ethical measures, also known as Black Hat SEO – something you don't want to get wrapped up in any way.
Luckily, there are plenty of red flags that are easy to spot if you know what to look for.
- Are they telling you that you'll get results overnight?
- Do their "guarantees" sound too good to be true?
- Are they making specific promises? (I.e., a set number of new backlinks or visitors each day.)
Each of those are signs that the company isn't utilizing ethical SEO practices so you should run in the other direction!
Outsourcing your SEO is a big deal! Don't be afraid to ask for references, the same way you would before you hired a new contractor or employee.
An SEO company should be able to provide you with client reviews and testimonials, as well as contact information for past or present clients for references.
Another quick way to dig into a company's reputation is just performing a quick Google search. Take a look at the reviews their clients have left on Google or visit their Facebook page for even more information.
You don't need to do SEO yourself
We've covered a lot in this article about choosing to do SEO yourself versus hiring an SEO company. From the fundamentals of SEO to algorithm updates and the work that goes into ensuring your SEO strategy is a success, your mind could be spinning.
But it doesn't have to be!
Seologist is here to help. We are the local SEO company you know and trust. We've been getting incredible results for our clients for years, and now it's your turn to get those same results.
We take pride in being a Toronto SEO company that stays up to date with industry trends and standards so you don't have to. When you work with us, keyword research, content marketing, social media SEO, ongoing SEO analysis, SEO strategy, and everything in between will be covered.
Let us take care of all of your SEO needs so you can get back to doing what you do best.